Sometimes it’s hard to take the young seriously. What do they know about respect and loyalty? What do they know about consistency and care?

Then you meet some who do know, who seem to have quiet honesty, who take their time with things and exude a maturity that surprises you.

Here, let me introduce you to some…

Ashlee and Dave are getting married. They’ve have known each other for 5 years and have been dating for nearly 3 and a half. She’s 18 and he’s 21, and they met through Ashlee’s ex-best friend and Dave’ ex-girlfriend – not the most inauspicious of beginnings.

Both parting of friendship and relationship were not clean by any means, but Ashlee and Dave became friends again when she asked him to her debutante ball in 2015.

In the weeks leading up to the event, they became quite close, learning a lot about each other, and texting all the time. They danced together every week, and at the end of the ball, Dave asked Ashlee to be his girlfriend. It was the start of something solid and real and special.

“He gets all my jokes, even when they aren’t funny” Ashlee says which, let’s be honest, is one of the first things you should look for in a man.

And the way a man treats you at the beginning is a good indicator of how he will treat you when you’ve been married for a hundred years. So it’s wonderful to hear Ashlee says how much she loves how Dave treats her, “like his princess”.

Dave is equally smitten with his bride-to-be. He enjoys how competitive she is in games, and how she is supportive all he does – even if it’s something “she couldn’t care less about…so very supportive”. And the love and care she shows him is endless.

But the couple isn’t just seeing each other through rose-tinted glasses – they know each others’ faults as wall.

“I’m quite blunt in my emotions…I tell the world how I feel, and I think sometimes I may hurt with my painful honesty” Ashlee says. “She doesn’t” Dave replies, but you can see they know each other, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Ashlee says it’s tricky because she’s grown to love a lot of Dave’s flaws. Sometimes, however, he forgets to text her back and it drives her crazy.

Equally, Dave thinks his sweetheart never realises how lovely she is, just as she is. “When I tell her she doesn’t need make-up, she goes and puts make-up on. I tell her she’s beautiful, and she’s like, no I’m not, I need make-up. She doesn’t, she really doesn’t”

Sometimes it’s the little things, and sometimes it’s the big things. But when you choose to love someone, you take everything that they are, just as they are, and love it anyway.

The couple has good jobs and steady plans. Dave is a 3rd-year apprentice boiler-maker at a local company in town, and Ashlee is a teachers aid, and about to start a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care.

How did the young man pop the question then? “I love this story” Ashlee says, looking at Dave. “It’s a pretty good story” he replies.

They travelled to Newcastle to meet up with some friends from church who’d moved there to study. 10 minutes out of Newcastle, Dave starts panicking about a suit he was going to pack. The duo was to meet one of Dave’s best mates in Sydney the following night, and he’d remembered to pack his shows, but not the suit.

Ashlee laughs, remembering, “Dave’s driving and completely flipping out – ‘I forgot my suit, what am I going to do?!’, and I like, it’s just a suit, chill”.

“It’s my favourite suit” Dave deadpans.

After spending the night in Newcastle, the couple continued onto Sydney the next day, and while in the Plaza, Dave asks Ashlee where a certain store is. Not thinking, she directs him and thinks no further about it. They bought another suit for Dave, and Ashlee went to have her hair done.

In the meantime, they’d already chosen an engagement ring together. The surprise part was that Ashlee wouldn’t know when Dave was actually going to ask her the big question.

With Dave’s best mate and his girlfriend, they all took a harbour cruise during Vivid. “The ironic thing is,” Ashlee says, musing, “is that Mel asked me if I thought we’d stay together and get married, and I was saying yea, I think we will”

The next thing she knows, Dave is dragging her to the centre of the boat, and got down on one knee, in front of all these people and the Harbour Bridge all lit up with lights…

The store Dave had been to? A jewellery shop to buy a second ring – the first one was in the pocket of his favourite suit back in Gunnedah.

Dave says with a smile, “So I had to buy another suit and another ring… Next to each other, they look exactly the same”.

“It’s one of my favourite ring stories, and I’m so glad it’s our story” Ashlee grins

Did she say yes straight away? She did indeed, but as Dave says, “Yes, [she] did let me finish. I was a bit worried she wouldn’t let me finish the question”.

The couple will be tying the knot on the 6th October 2018.

What are the plans for the big day? Ashlee gets all morning to get ready, and Dave only gets 45 minutes.

“More than enough time.” Dave says easily, “Wet the hair, run a comb through. I’ll have to have some of the boys clean themselves up though…one of them looks like a bushranger at the moment” he informs us, chuckling.

The couple doesn’t live together yet but have plans to move in together when they return from their honeymoon, which is to be a relaxing cruise to Morena, off New Caledonia, then Noumea, then onto home. It’ll be Dave’s first cruise, and Ashlee loves cruises.

In the future, Dave will look for somewhere that offers him a job that will make a long-term career. They like Gunnedah, and have lots of connections, so have no plans to leave the country.

Kids are certainly on the radar, with the soon-to-be-weds solidly set on three, and “enough of a handful!” Ashlee giggles. “Anymore than three and you need a bigger car,” Dave laughs, “with three, you only need a sedan”.

What’s the secret to their relationship, what keeps them together, and has made them take the big step to a life together?

“I think it’s good communication with each other” Ashlee says seriously, and Dave agrees. They make sure that when they are together, they don’t hide anything, and bar the forgotten texting back, the duo believes firmly in the importance of being total honest with each other, and talking about things that come up when they come up.

Everyone has their little rituals, and the young sweethearts try their very best not to let each other go to bed angry. It’s not always doable, but they strive for it, and that means the world to both of them.

“I’ve found, in my experience, time and communication always heal things” Dave asserts.

Some young people baffle you, and some make you worry. But Ashlee and Dave make you smile, they make you think that young love, hard work, honesty, and respect, still imbue the generation to come.

We wish them all the merriment ahead and the very best with their wedding!

Laura Meade, February 2018